Parenting Plan.

In 2005, the Texas Legislature began requiring the addition of a “Parenting Plan” in the Final Decree of Divorce. The Parenting Plan includes the con- servatorship rights of the parents, the visitation schedule, the child support, and also provides for other issues that may affect the child in order to minimize the risk of future disagreements.

Parenting Coordinator and Parenting Facilitator.

Another creation of the 2005 Texas Legislature is the “Parenting Coordinator.” In a Suit Affecting the Parent- Child Relationship (such as a divorce or custody or child support law suit), the court may appoint someone known as the Parenting Coordinator. It is the job of this coor- dinator to meet with the parents and to assist them in reaching agreements regarding their children. The difference between the Parenting Coordinator and the Parenting Facilitator is that the Parenting Facilitator may be required to testify as to any com- munications they have had with the parties, as to the basis of their recommendations to the parties and as to the parties’ compliance with their recommendations. In addi- tion, the Parenting coordinator may also monitor the parties’ compliance with court orders regarding the children. The Parenting Coordinator, on the other hand, may not be required to testify as to any communications they have had with the parties.

Parenting coordinators and facilitators can serve as very effective tools in high-conflict custody cases. Most parenting coordinators and facilitators are mental health profes- sionals or social workers who have lots of experience in working with high-conflict families and who are trained to effectively resolve disputes with regards to visitation, child support or child custody. If a dispute arises in a case, the parties generally attend a series of sessions with the parenting coordinator or facilitator in an attempt to resolve the dispute before any court action is taken.